Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

By Sati. Tuesday, September 25, 2012 , , , , , , , ,
I'm not a fan of Wes Anderson's work. I think he tries too hard to make his movies cute and quirky and in the effect they never feel effortless. They just seem pretentious and are clear examples of style over substance. That said, there are some of his movies I actually enjoyed and found to be quite charming like The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Rushmore. I really wanted to like Moonrise Kingdom, but I ended up strongly disliking it. In fact, if the movie didn't have beautiful cinematography it would probably be around 30-40 points. It has everything that could have worked beautifully - it is set in New England - magical place. It takes place in the 60's - magical time. And it has music composed by Alexandre Desplat - composer of magical scores. But you can't have true magic without strong story.

For me the most important thing in a movie are the characters. They don't necessarily have to be likable, but they should be interesting. Even if the movie is awful, if there is a single character you love watching you won't hate the movie. The problem with Moonrise Kingdom is that it only has two characters I genuinely liked - Edward Norton's Scout Master Ward and Bruce Willis's Captain Sharp - and they are not featured enough in this movie. Instead, we follow lifeless and boring adventures of two kids " in love".
That's the biggest problem with Moonrise Kingdom - the protagonists, especially the boy, are very unlikable. From what I recall this is the first time Anderson has children as main heroes in his movies and it's obvious he doesn't really know how to write a likable or even consistent child character that would be able to carry the film. In fact Sam and Suzy are written as if they were adults, which is really bizarre and weakens the plot - Anderson can't decide whether they are just silly kids or individualists who deserve their freedom.

Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) are both twelve years old, they are misunderstood and don't have any friends. They meet during the show where Suzy plays the raven and become pen pals. They come up with a plan to escape together. The problem here is that in their scenes, I felt absolutely no connection between the two. It's not actors' fault, in fact they were trying their best and seeing how this was their first acting job they were very impressive. However, the script is so weak here that the justification "they are both outsiders who found each other" doesn't work at all. In fact, they don't even appear to like each other yet they are supposed to be in love!

Watching Moonrise Kingdom and to be specific watching their scenes, felt as if someone was putting those comic speech bubbles I put in my graphics on the movie itself. It's like when they were dancing and kissing I was supposed to buy the fact they are in love because the plot and characters tell me so. It is not how it works. We are supposed to feel emotions with the characters, not merely being informed about their feelings. Also the scenes depicting their intimacy were cringe worthy and I felt really uncomfortable by the fact twelve year old girl was shown so prominently parading in her underwear.
Still, the movie wouldn't have lost me, but Anderson featured a scene where a dog is shot with an arrow. This is not the first time he killed a dog in his movies. I don't know what is wrong with this man, but this is just repulsive. If you are going to kill helpless animal, you better justify it. There is no plot progression because of this occurrence, there is no reason for this to be happening. I'm taking away 10 points from this movie for this and honestly, if I hadn't plan on writing this review I'd stopped watching the film right there. But I don't think it's fair to talk about a movie until you finished it.

The redeeming points of the movie? Well, we have cinematography - it is absolutely beautiful and as with all of Anderson's films every single shot is meticulously planned. There are details everywhere, placed very carefully that make each shot feel so alive. Unfortunately, the beautiful style of the movie only reveals the ugliness of the half-ass script. The music by Alexandre Desplat works well with the film, but as his recent works is disappointing - I initially liked the soundtrack, but after few listens it's really unremarkable. Desplat has been spoiling his talent for years now favoring quantity over quality.
The acting is very good, especially considering how little the script is allowing the actors to do. Bill Murray and Frances MacDormand are fine in their roles of Suzy's bitter parents and Tilda Swinton shines in brief appearance as social worker. I found Jared Gilman to be extremely annoying, but that's probably because his character was so unlikable - this was what Anderson accomplished here, he made an orphan unlikable. Kara Hayward's Suzy on the other hand is a much better character and another in the line of Anderson's insecure, misunderstood and lonely heroines. Hayward showed real promise here and despite young age and lack of experience she showed tremendous understanding for her character.

But the two biggest highlights are Edward Norton and Bruce Willis as the scout and a cop who are looking for the escaped couple. Norton hasn't been this good in years - he is sweet, heartbreaking and adorable, so adorable even he is one of those characters you wish you could hug, He is a genuinely kind person who cares about the kids as does Captain Sharp - who is equally lonely as Scout Master. When these two were on screen it was almost like a different movie - that is much better, engaging and fun movie.
There are many adorable things here - Bishop's house, ridiculous tree house, Suzy's outfits, bird costumes and the dog (that is until Anderson mercilessly slaughters him) among many others - and it almost makes me feel bad for not liking it. But the truth is the longer Moonrise Kingdom went on, the more annoyed I was. The film is fun to look but it's dead inside, it's completely emotionally unavailable. And dry humour and deadpan delivery can be fun, but you can't have every single actor, delivering every single line in such a way. I'm sure there are many people who will fall in love with this movie, but it's quite simply not my cup of tea. Yes, I disliked that movie. And no amount of pretty things, vibrant colors and Pierrot Le Fou references is going to change that.

Moonrise Kingdom  
(2012, 94 min)
Plot: Set on an island off the coast of New England in the 1960s, a young boy - Sam, who is an orphan and just escaped scout camp - and girl - Suzy, who feels misunderstood by everyone in her life -  fall in love and decide to run away from their problems together. They are being pursued by the scouts, the police officer, Suzy's parents and social services, while the dangerous storm is approaching.
Director: Wes Anderson
Writers: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Stars: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward and Bruce Willis

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55 comments:

  1. Interesting point of view, Sati. I am not very familiar w/ Wes' work either, but like you I did like a few of them like Fantastic Mr Fox, Royal Tennenbaums and this one. I could see your point about the protagonist not being likable, I kinda feel the same at first but he grew on me. The relationship between the two youngsters does feel awkward at times though, there's even a cringe-worthy moment at the beach. I question Wes' decision in filming such a scene with these young actors. Overall I enjoyed it more than I thought though, I think the supporting cast was great!

    Still haven't seen Rushmore yet, but glad to hear you found it charming.

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    1. I was quite shocked during this whole beach sequence. It felt so odd and it was so artificial. There were no emotions there, which made it kinda disgusting and hard to watch.

      Rushmore is definetly worth seeing!

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    2. i think the thing most people miss about the beach scene and the "love interest" in general is that these are emotionally disturbed kids who have trouble relating to anyone because they feel older than they actually are. that is their character. the fact that their isn't a powerhouse of emotion behind the kiss is because, A. everything anderson does is deadpan. and B. the kids are trying to be in love or grasp what love is and how they are supposed to act. The other reason for that whole "you can touch my breast thing" and the entire "should i be watching this" uncomfortable feeling you get from the beach scene is to make it stand out as a special intimate moment that you take away and that makes the destruction of the cove at the end of the film that much more powerful and sentimental.

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    3. That's all very good and Anderson may have his deadpan style and say whatever stories he wants, but the trouble with it is that when something is so quirky and bizarre it won't move and affect many people. Especially with paper thin characters that we don't know enough to relate to. Since I wasn't moved by any of this - sentimental yes, it was sentimental - powerful? Not for me.

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  2. Aww, I'm sorry you didn't like it! I loved Moonrise Kingdom, but I get what you saw about Wes Anderson's films. I'm not a fan of The Royal Tenenbaums, and my friends frequently try to disown me over that. lol

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    1. Haha, I did notice his films are very polarizing :)

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  3. Great review! I love the cinematography, score, and performances, but I'm not Anderson's biggest fan. This film surprisingly worked for me, but it's not for everyone. Sorry you didn't like it more.

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, I was sorry too, I was sure I'll end up liking it more.

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  4. I agree with this review 100%. I thought I was the only movie-lover in the world who didn't care for Wes Anderson flicks? I guess not! The cinematography was amazing. The score was amazing. The dry humor was amazing. But, like you, I didn't care for the two child actors at all...there was no chemistry or connection. I didn't care for the movie Super 8, but I appreciated how great those kid actors were. Maybe with different child actors, I could have liked Moonrise Kingdom more? I'm not sure. I gave it a shot at least.

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    1. Thank you! I think the lack of connection is mostly the fault fo the script - the film just felt scattered and none of the characters were developed enough for us to truly care about them, unless they were really cute like Norton and Willis - but those two didn't have a single bad quality so they were so easy to love, as simple as their characters were written.

      Kids in Super 8 were great indeed! I didn't like this movie too much either, but the characters were very easy to like.

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  5. We agree 100%, wholeheartedly here. There were things I most definitely appreciated about it, but in the end, I felt it was an "emotionally unavailable" film. Definitely not one of Anderson's better films, in my opinion.

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    1. So glad you agree! I remember your review, I thought you liked it but really disliked certain points - I'm a bit an opposite as I disliked it as a whole but liked few things :)

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  6. I am with you on this one. I found it far too hipster for me. The script all felt false and forced. Although there were some funny moments.

    Mr Fox is a much better anderson film.

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    1. Too hipster is another way to describe it. I'm a bit vary using this word - not because it is incorrect but because people act batshit crazy when you call something that.

      I agree, Fox was very cute and infinetly better!

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    2. Sati, how can you expect people to take anything you write seriously when you're "vary" of using words and things are "infinetly" better? I'm not a native English speaker, so trust me when I say that for such a simple language it takes a lot of laziness to not learn to write it properly.

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    3. I'm sorry you run a hugely unsuccessful blog with no visitors and hideous design. Perhaps you should work on that instead of going through all of the comments and inserting yourself into a conversation when all you have are 2 words I didn't spell correctly?

      English is not my native language either, but I can speak fluently in 3. I probably managed to achieve that by not writing pointless, stupid comments on other people's blogs.

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  7. Finally, a review of Moonrise Kingdom I agree with! I always felt the other characters were extremely underdeveloped, especially how the subplot of Bill Murray's wife cheating on him completely disappeared. This is my second Wes Anderson movie, but I hope I'll find better material in his other films.

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    1. Thank you! Yeah, that was as pointless as it was abandonded later on in the movie.

      You should check Fantastic Mr. Fox if you haven't seen it yet.

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  8. The girl looks like Lana Del Rey's younger sister or something :) Wes Anderson is an aquired taste, and one of the most overrated filmmakers in my opinion (the only one I kinda liked of his movies was Rushmore, but haven't seen Fantastic Mr. Fox). I don't like the way Anderson tells a story, but might watch Moonrise on dvd for the visuals, and because people are saying it is his best film so far. Bill Murray is old enough to be a grandfather, though?
    For contemporary indie directors, I think Noah Baumbach or Nicole Holofcener have more substance.

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    1. Oh, no no no...Lana is much more pretty! :)

      Yeah, I find him overrated too. The visuals are gorgeous, but too be honest I'm kinda thinking it would be better to mute the movie, look at them and play some nice music in the background :) That's how insignificant the story felt for me here.

      I guess so, both him and Macdormand were a bit of a miscast, but they gave good performances.

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    2. The girl did look like Lana Del Ray! I thought to myself, 'she looks familiar.' I don't know much about Wes Anderson's movies, but I think it was pretty decent. I agree that it needed more depth, especially on being a troubled kid for both of them. I like the quirky-ness and the props, and the tone. But I've watched more moving films.

      Nice observation, Sati!

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    3. Thank you! Yeah, that was a big problem for me - it wasn't moving. Love stories should be moving!

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  9. Good review Sati. This is such a wonderful and lovely movie that I couldn't help but walk out of this flick with a big smile on my face. It just makes you happy and feel the innocence of being a kid and being in love again. One of my favorites of the year and I only hope that Anderson can keep this love going.

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad this one had such an effect on you but for me the only thing that put smile on my face were the visuals.

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    1. Yeah, I was hoping I will, but the chemistry between me and this movie was off :)

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  11. I'm about to go all 'Girls' on you here, but...

    ...I'll hold back.

    Obviously just being a douche, but I really loved this film. I'm kinda surprised with all the love that your hate is getting...if that makes sense.

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    1. It does, I was worried I'll be attacked again :)

      Glad you loved it, I felt I wasted my time with this one but I'm happy some of my favorite bloggers had good time :)

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  12. I really liked Moonrise Kingdom, but perhaps it was influenced by the fact that it's only the second Wes film I have seen, I'm not sure I would have enjoyed it as much if I had seen so much of the same thing before.

    I found Hayward to be very likable, not so much Gilman though who I did find quite annoying at times. Murray, Mcdormand and Swilton did nothing for me either so we are on the same page with the adult characters. But I really enjoyed most of the kids performances, whether it be the other scouts or the younger brothers or Hayward.

    The wonderful cinematography and colours won me over and I found it extremely charmable and likable, while I gave it an A- it would almost certainly be an A if he didn't kill the poor dog for no reason!

    Good review Sati, I can see where you are coming from at least with your faults :)

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    1. Yeah, he always does the same thing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it...doesn't.

      The scouts and the younger brothers were really fun to watch! Definetly liked them more than the main heroes.

      Yeah, that dog situation was just unforgivable...

      Thank you!

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  13. Great review Sati, but I do have to disagree on the characters point. I understand why you felt they were unlikable, but for me they were quite the opposite, just because I got the awkwardness and lack of real, passion-type romance- after all, they are 12 year-olds who don't know what love is, they only read it about in books. Glad to see you also liked the cinematography and the music!

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    1. Thank you! Yeah, but for me they were really unlikable as people - they just seemed to be written as adults, instead as children. They acted more like adults than adults in the movie and after all children on the run, hiking and finding their own paradise, should have fun so we would have fun watching it.

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  14. I'm sorry, but I don't think is a very good review. You seem to have these preconceived ideas about what a movie is and how movie characters should be written. You then proceed to trounce around these ideas as fact: "it's dead inside, it's completely emotionally unavailable." I strongly disagree with this.

    Just because the script is subtle and not animated or in your face does not make "the script...so weak,"
    in fact, I'd be willing to bet that this will get nominated for best original screenplay.

    While this is a review and I respect a difference in opinion, you're opinion seems to be set in this idea or what a movie should be instead of what this movie is. This movie has a clear tone and objective. It's as if you've looked at a Picasso painting and said "that doesn't look like a person."

    The reason I believe this is a bad review is because although your opinions are clearly defined by how they made you feel (which I respect and appreciate), I feel that you've viewed the movie with a misconstrued lens.

    I suppose I should have expected as much with your opening line "I'm not a fan of Wes Anderson's work," which as this very wes-anderson-y, implies you wouldn't like this movie.

    Obviously taste is an issue, but you fail to understand what this movie is.

    Anyways, just food for thought.

    P.S. That 10 point deduction for the dog scene is just petty.

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    1. Why do you apologize for your opinion? Is it because you are wasting my time posting that comment? Apology accepted.

      I do not have preconceived ideas as I didn't even read anything about this prior to seeining it. Unless you meant, poorly expressing your thoughts, that I had a vision about what the movie will be based on other Anderson's work.

      You may disagree with this, but it's dead inside for me. I'm not changing my opinion about this as the movie failed to move me mostly because of the poor script.

      Bet all you want. The script may be subtle and good. That wasn't it.

      Was the objective let's focus on the visuals not the story nor the audiance's connection to the characters? Because if so, then that was a pute success and triumph.

      I think you have misconstructed lens if you thought it was a great movie. Taste is an issue, therefore while you call my review bad I'm gonna call your comment a failure. I don't know what you wanted to achieve with it, but you failed. It's not an invitation to discussion as I have no respect for someone who thinks killing an animal on screen without any purpose is justified let alone not a big deal.

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    2. "You fail to understand what this movie is" is not -- in any way -- a cogent argument for your point. Showing the ability to actually make a case for your opinion, plus being able to disagree in a respectful manner, is the difference between a worthwhile comment and trolling.

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    3. Matt, you had me until the third sentence. You criticized her for not seeing the emotional aspect of the movie. But sometimes there are scenes in the movie, or its actual tone that hinders its audience from feeling what the director aims for them to feel. And emotion is a subjective thing. I'll name examples of movies that hit me that don't do the same for others but we'll be here all day.

      Also, criticizing bad writing is only in good form if you present your own material to be fawned after or picked apart.

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  15. It's a shame this movie wasn't better, because there are some terrific actors in the cast. I especially like Frances McDormand and Edward Norton.

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    1. I really loved Norton in this, in fact he might have been the best thing about this movie.

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  16. I dont even find this movie beautiful. Its superficial and a true kitsch all over and when we add the classical vulgar american rudeness ( the killing of the dog for example) - we are left with something which is strongly recommended to be flushed away afterwards

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    1. I thought it looked lovely, but yes, the lack of substance makes it quite kitschy.

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  17. I loved this film, but can appreciate most of your points except your complete disgust at the dog scene. I am sorry if this next question sounds patronizing but, you do know that the dog wasn't actually shot, right? Your review is written as if an actual dog died in the making of this film.

    "I don't know what is wrong with this man, but this is just repulsive. If you are going to kill helpless animal, you better justify it."

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  18. I do realize that. But it's a terrible thing to do. And it serves absolutely no purpose here nor in any other movie Anderson does a thing like that, I think he is very disturbed.

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    1. I'm sorry it didn't work for you, but I thought the dog scene was in fact substantial to the script. It made the point early that disturbing events can occur in the film's fictional universe, so that I could actually worry about the kids in the final part, and fear that something terrible could still happen. It adds a lot to the suspense, in my opinion, and does it in a subtle way.

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  19. Wait... you seriously think he KILLED a dog in order to get a shot? I really can't take your review seriously in the slightest after reading that nonsense. You are aware of what decade it is and what country it was filmed in, correct? Just because it was set in the 60's that doesn't mean the same rules apply. He obviously did not kill that dog in real life. Yes it's kinda sad and icky... but it's not real. Besides it seems a little hypocritical to go on about that dog unless of course you're a hardcore vegan animal rights activist in which case you're justified... although I imagine you aren't.

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    1. Before "imagining" and "assuming" things you should read with a bit of comprehension - nowhere in the review does it state that I think the dog was actually killed. The issue is that the dog gets killed IN the movie not IN THE PROCESS of shooting a movie.

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  20. Rollie the Beverage InspectorDecember 3, 2012 at 3:41 AM

    I loved the Fantastic Mr.Fox, and the Royal Tannenbaums,Rushmore was ok, but not great. This movie did little for me. The dry deadpan delivery by the kids wasnt funny, wasnt entertaining- the beach scene was odd,and tough to watch.
    Bill Murray was completely wasted- and the narrator.....that was just odd, and didnt work for me, maybe if he was actually funny, or interesting.Harvey Keitel..showed up too,and added nothing.
    I did like the jewelery scene- that cracked me up- but the good scenes were few and far between(thankfully the movie was short!).
    The cinematography was awesome and IMHO- Ed Norton was the best thing about the movie. He looked devestated when he was stripped of his rank.But the few good things arent enough for me to reccommmend this film.

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    1. I agree completely, it was tough to watch and definetly not charming or innocent and quirky in any way.

      Keitel was pretty fun, but he was so underused, same thing goes for Murray, their characters were incredibly underwritten.

      I agree about Norton - best thing about the movie for me too.

      Thank you for the comment!

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  21. what is wrong with you , miss ?

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    1. There seems to be something wrong with you, anonymous being.

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  22. Hey

    Why do people always say they can connect better to the characters only if they are likeable. For me their are thousands of other ways emotions are passed on the weird sileces and akwardness says a lot about the boy/girl. Not everybody is always talking and saying the most interesting things, I find this oftenly more intreging.

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    1. I don't need the characters to be likable, just not flat and empty like they were here. I connected plenty with Mavis Gary in last year's terrific Young Adult and many people hated that film and her character.

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  23. Hi! I just saw the movie and it's the first Andrson's movie I watch.
    I agree with you in a lot of things, for example: I think it had a wonderful cinematography, I think the music was good, and I really really loved Norton's character.

    I think Frances McDormand did a good acting job as usual and also Tilda Swinton.

    I didn't like the characters development or lack of development, but I belive it was kinda on purpose, unfortunaly it didn't work out well.

    I think he tried to do a lot of things and that made the movie confuse.

    In other words, I agree wit you in a lot of things.

    The only thing that bothers you a lot and didn't bother me that much was the dog situation, and it's weird, because I love dogs, and I don't watch movies with dogs becuase it makes me feel bad when something happens to them, but maybe it's because we don't really conect with the dog in the movie, he just dies, yes without reason to us, but I think Andreson feels that "art" doesn't need a reason, and I'm sure he belives he is making art, and well, he kinda is... I don't know if this made sense, if not, I'm sorry.

    I'm also sorry for my bad english writing.

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    1. Thank you for the comment Andrea!

      I'm disgusted with Anderson - he actually kills dogs in most of his movies, so it's obvious he has some sort of a mental problem.

      I love dogs too and I don't even have to feel a connection to them in movies to be deeply affected whenever something happens to them.

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  24. I just watched this movie last night. I have read other reviews but never have I read that this is a satire. In a satire, the writer gets away with all kinds of nonsensical happenings. These two only knew each other from being pen pals( that in itself is pretty preposterous since they lived in the same area.) When they were together, there was no emotion from either of them. I would call it bad acting although I realize they were very young. Regardless, I have seen 5 year olds who do a better job in emoting! My husband likened this movie to Romeo and Juliet and I can see his point. Lots of it is deep symbolism and really is not meant to be watched at face value. So when you think of it this way, it actually makes sense out of nonsense.

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  25. Like "Courtney" said, I am very thankful too for your critic.
    I also wanted to love this movee!
    But Kid´s acting like adult´s - I can´t stand it. It´s not arty-quirky to me, it´s nonsense.
    Like the acting of this twelve year old Girl in the fantastic "True Grit".
    I loved this movie!! - But always, when she was acting (better: had to act like in the script) all the miracle was blown away. Even harder, I disliked it.
    It felt like in a delicious chinese Food, in a soup or in a meal, to suddenly bite on coriander.
    I simply can´t stand this sudden taste.
    The Royal Tennenbaums were ok, but this one omg, and I thought, I were alone!
    Thank you again!

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